Can I make a sentence with "has been having"?

Is the sentence below correct?

"My company xx has been having account in your bank for past 3 years"?

  • You cannot say using the present progressive/continuous tense: "I'm having an account." (Note the "an" in the sentence.) Likewise you cannot use the present perfect progressive/continuous tense: I have been having an account. But you can say: I have an account and I have had an account since 2010 (or) for three years. The second sentence tells us when the act began and it is an uninterrupted situation. To have an account means to POSSESS one. Verbs of *possession do not normally take the continuous tense. – Mari-Lou A Jul 31 '13 at 12:04
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    @ShaonaBose I note that the editor of the question actually changed the sentence about which the OP is asking. I would suggest that that is inappropriate for two reasons: 1) It is actively changing the question; and 2) the OP may not realise the sentence has been edited and, consequently, if an answerer were to say ""it's OK", the OP may think that the original sentence is OK, whereas the answerere may be referring to the amended sentence. For that reason, I'm changing the sentence back to the original (grammatically incorrect) version. – TrevorD Jul 31 '13 at 15:50
  • @TrevorD Lol! Okay. – Shaona Bose Jul 31 '13 at 16:49
  • @ShaonaBose I should have added that the rest of the editing was fine. I was just concerned about the one section. Thanks. – TrevorD Jul 31 '13 at 22:13
  1. Yes, “has been having” is perfectly fine in English.

  2. In your example sentence, “has been having” does not work.

“Has been having” is the continuous aspect of the present perfect tense “has had”. The continuous aspect requires either an action that has been ongoing or an action or state that has repeatedly occurred in the period given.

In your sentence, the verb used (‘to have’) does not indicate an action, but a state. That rules out the first option (an action that has been ongoing). “Has been having” would then only be right if the state has occurred repeatedly (i.e., on several different instances), which is not the case here: your company hasn’t opened, and then closed, a whole series of bank accounts with the bank in question. Therefore, the continuous aspect is not a possibility, and the simple present perfect must be used instead:

My company, XX, has had an account in your bank for the past three years

(Note also: an account for the past three years)

If, on the other hand, you are talking about something that really is a repeating occurrence, you can use the other construction; compare:

I have been having headaches for a month now.
I have had a headache for a month now.

In the first sentence, I have been getting headaches on and off (but repeatedly) for the past month: they come and go. In the latter, I have been in a state of having the same, permanent headache for an entire month (ouch!).

  • Right. The be-...-ing construction (the Progressive) can only be used with Active predicates like walk or be honest. It's ungrammatical with Stative predicates like own or be asleep. See the Verb Phrase Study Guide for details. – John Lawler Jul 31 '13 at 15:33

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